Caribou Antler

I’ll Trade You This Lund for That ClackaCraft

(And a Canadian beer for one pike Deceiver and three grayling dries…)

My dad was an adventurer – not the adrenaline junkie type – but the type who yearned to see what was around the next bend of the river.  I think that might be a pretty common characteristic of fly fishermen.  Although Dad preferred his casting rod to a fly rod, he certainly had a bad case of “next bend” syndrome  – a condition that forces you out of your car and into your boat and even out of your boat onto your feet.

I don’t think it got worse as he got he got older, just more obvious.   When he maybe should have been out with the local mall-walking group, he was trekking through all kinds of wilderness, fishing rod in hand.

He didn’t care much if he caught a fish; he was mostly interested in seeing a new piece of the planet.  The beauty of it was that I could talk him into going to all kinds of places.  (Peer pressure isn’t necessarily a bad thing.)

Caribou AntlerOne August, we flew into Munroe Lake Lodge, just a bit south of the tree line in northern Manitoba.  It was August and the pike were out of the shallow back bays and into the deeper cabbage beds.  If we found some cabbage, we found pike –  solid fish from 6 to 8 pounds. With enough bigger ones to ones to keep the anticipation levels high.

However, lakes at that latitude are not incredibly fertile.  Being unguided, we roamed all over Munroe Lake’s 12 mile length to find cabbage beds.   We saw a lot of beautiful things– sand eskers, shed caribou antlers, stunted black spruce, and cabbage beds, too!  The cabbage bed residents loved to slam our offerings.  But not always…  As pike are prone to do, they would often merely follow.  And then watch, and maybe even grin, as we figure-eighted and frothed the water.

Surprisingly, the most effective flies were on the smaller side.  Bunny leeches, tan Whistlers, and white Deceivers from 4 to 5 inches long were deadly.  An intermediate line seemed to get just the right amount of depth.

As a change of pace, we fished for grayling at the mouths of inlet streams.  None were bigger than 10 inches but they were great fun on dry flies and a 3 weight.

One evening, the lodge owner mentioned that trophy grayling could be found down the outlet at the far end of the lake.  “Just float down through the riffles until you get to the first good pool,” he said.  He had me convinced as soon as he mentioned trophy grayling.  And it didn’t take much to get my Dad on board.  (Remember what I said earlier about peer pressure.)

The next morning, after a long boat ride down the lake, we eased our 16 foot Lund and 20 horsepower motor into the current of Munroe Lake’s riffled outlet. That particular boat and motor combo is typical issue at northern lodges.  A lot of people use boats like that for chasing walleye in Minnesota.  They are not exactly drift boats.

Push!After about ten feet, the prop dug in.  So up went the motor.  After ten more feet, the boat’s hull was stuck on the bottom.  So out we jumped.

We had on chest waders and it was kind of fun – hanging on to the gunwhales, half-walking and half-riding the boat down the river.  We went about 100 yards and then I looked at my Dad, who was 71 years old at the time, and said, “We’re gonna have to DRAG the boat on the way back.  Are you sure we should do this?”

He muttered something about him riding and me dragging and off we went.  We probably covered a half mile of river before we found the spot the lodge owner was talking about.  It was a beautiful deep glide with large boulders on the bottom.  We fished it hard but only managed one sixteen inch grayling.

Our exit from the outlet didn’t involve the same exhilaration as our arrival.  It was hard, exhausting work.  Instead of riding on the gunwhale, I grabbed it and pulled.  Dad was at the back of the boat and, despite his earlier threats, pushing like crazy.

It took us over an hour to get back up the outlet and onto the lake.  We were panting and sweating and beat.  Our excursion had netted us only fish.  Was it worth it?

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Totally!!!

WInston BIIIx

R.L. Winston: The Boron Story

 

The Winston BIIIx was the most recent addition to my quiver this summer in a 590.4 . This rod is simply amazing for throwing dries.  I cant wait to fish this thing more and really put it through it’s paces. Once I do I will most definitely have share my thoughts on that beautiful piece of Winston Perfection. Till then check out this video that explains the intricacies and benefits of Boron infused blank construction that make these rods so special to cast & fish.

Check out all Winston products by clicking HERE

 

 

Loop Opti Reel

Loop Tackle: The Story

 

Being Scandinavian in origin means that Loop doesn’t have a huge following here in the United States however that is slowly changing because the products they offer are exceptional especially the rods and reels . Check out this video that gives a little insight into the world  Loop Tackle. We have had a chance to spend some time with Loop Rods and Reels here at the shop and they are pretty awesome. Are they on your Holiday Wish List?

Check out Loop Tackle products for your self by clicking HERE

Sage Method Fly Rod

Ultra Fast Action Performance: Sage Method Series Fly Rods

 

The staff here in the shop have been extremely impressed with the Method Series rods for both freshwater and saltwater applications.  As always Sage is pushing the limits in terms of fly rod performance.

You can check it out by clicking HERE

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

Holiday Gift Ideas: Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag

I know most guys complain about their in-laws, but I have to say, my in-laws give some of the greatest gifts. A Christmas or two ago, I ripped off the wrapping paper to find the Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit. Fishpond definitely hit one out of the park with this bag and it goes with me on any out of town fishing trip so that I can tie a few extra flies after a long day on the water..

What I like -

Organization – there are more pockets and compartments in the Fishpond Road Trip Kit than you can shake a stick at.

  • Padded internal storage pocket for your vice and tying tools.
  • 2 small storage pockets
  • Four large “see through” zippered mesh material pockets
  • Two 9” clear tubes for thread spools
  • One 4.5”x9”x1” molded plastic organizing box for hooks, beads, etc.
  • Nine 4”x6” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment
  • Nine 3”x4.5” resealable, clear, poly bags with Velcro binding attachment

Before any big trip, I sort through the different pockets and make sure I have the right materials for area that I’ll be fishing. Most of the bags, boxes, tubes are velcro attached and can therefore be rearranged to fit whatever your needs are for a particular trip. It never ceases to amaze me how much I can actually fit into this case.

Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit Bag10Construction – The case is built out of the Fishpond Diamondtech fabric, which makes it extremely durable. Being constructed of fabric and with dimensions of 12” x 9.5″ x 4”, The Road Trip Kit is just the right size to squeeze into a suitcase or gear bag.

The Fishpond Guarantee – “At Fishpond, our goal is to build a reputation for unmatched quality among the outdoor enthusiasts using our products. Our soft goods are covered by a lifetime guarantee.”

What I don’t like

The thread spool tubes - Nice idea that doesn’t really stand up. The tubes hold multiple spools of thread, but have a tendency to pop open and have them fall out everywhere. I ended up using a piece of tape to keep it securely shut.

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Bottom line – The Fishpond Road Trip Fly Tying Kit is an essential piece of gear to keep you organized and churning out flies when you’re on the road. A must have for the traveling fly fisherman.

Check out the Fly Tying Kit by clicking HERE

Flies

Holiday Gift Guide 101: Choosing The Right Gift For A Fly Fisherman

Flies As the holidays approach here at Fishwest we tend to see a lot of folks coming in to shop for the pesky fly fisherman in the family. This situation can go one of two ways. On one hand we see people come in who have done the research and know exactly what they need: quick, easy, and painless. However, more often than not we see folks come in that are completely lost in terms of finding a gift for that special fisherman in their lives.  This is where we come in and save the day.  Follow these guidelines below and the results will be a holiday “home run” of sorts.

I would say that gift from a fly shop fit into three categories. Those three categories would be big ticket items, offseason utems, and the bare essentials. The bare essentials are easy to come by and these are items that a majority of anglers use. I am talking about things spools of tippet, leaders, and flies.  All these things are pretty small and would fit perfectly into a stocking or a small box. The nicest part about the essentials is that they are relatively inexpensive, which means a small budget can go a long way. Even though there is nothing exciting about these gifts I will guarantee you that they will be appreciated greatly.

Confluence FilmsNext on the list would be what I would deem offseason items. By my definition these are items to pass time while your favorite fishing areas are closed for the season or Mother Nature is keeping you away. A great example of this would be the Confluence Films collection. These videos are great for both showcasing the sport of fly fishing to new anglers while also stoking the fires of long time anglers alike. Another example of this is fly tying materials. Winter is the time when a majority of anglers pass the time by tying flies and replenishing their stock of flies for the upcoming adventures. The nice thing is that these materials are also quite inexpensive so a small budget goes along way. The latest and greatest fly tying materials like Clear Cure Goo or EP Fibers are sure to make an angler happy and pass the time till the next fishing outing with relative ease.

Hatch 4 PlusLastly we get to my favorite category in the Fishwest gift giving guide as deemed by me, the “big ticket” item. The Winston Rods and Hatch Reels those once and the big ticket item is a wonderful gift however they require a lot of research beforehand.  However doing this research is pretty easy.  Knowing where your angler likes to fish can go a long way in determining what type of gift to get them.  Also be sure to ask them how they like to fish their favorite waters.  Even make sure to ask the staff at the fly shop your angler frequents or even his or her fishing buddies. At that point you should have all the info to make an educated choice when it comes to picking the perfect big ticket item. I know I cannot speak for all fly fishermen but I would be ecstatic if there was a fly rod or reel under the tree for me this year.

There you have it! With this information you should be able to put a smile on the face of the fly fisherman in your life. When it comes time to pick out a gift be sure to ask the staff members here at Fishwest. We are more than happy to help. For me as a shop employee it is always extremely rewarding to help pick out a gift that you know someone will enjoy. Also if all else fails gift certificates are always an option that can be used both in shop and online.

Happy Holidays from the Fishwest staff!

Rivershed Boots

Product Review: Simms Rivershed Boots

Rivershed BootsI’ve been wearing the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot for about 3 years now and while I don’t quite agree with the Simms marketing angle, I sure do like the boot.

Simms describes the Rivershed Boot as, “An athletic design for anglers who want lighter boots to hike into the backcountry.”

At 62.4 ounces, it’s not clear to me what Simms is comparing this boot to. It is lighter than their Guide Boot, but only by a few ounces. I think it compares more to a heavy-duty backpacking boot—good for hiking into the backcountry, but not exactly light.

Just know that if you make this purchase thinking you’re buying a light boot, you’ll likely be disappointed.

Here’s how the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot performs:

Comfort

Awesome. The boots are fully lined with soft neoprene, and the soles have plenty of cushion for my needs. I tend to hike 2 or 3 miles whenever I fish, and I have never had a blister, hot spot, or aching feet at the end of a full day on the water.

Note: I wear extra-thick socks to fit these man-sized boots to my lady-sized foot.

Stability & Support

Excellent. The boot cinches tightly at the ankle, the footbed feels wide and sturdy, and the toe box is stiff and covered in durable rubber.

I’m not the most confident wader you’ve ever seen, so I’m always pleased with the foot and ankle protection these boots provide. I never wonder if I’m going to twist an ankle or crunch my toes while navigating a difficult streambed.

Traction

Out of the water, the StreamTread soles perform just like a serious backpacking boot. I’ve hiked on muddy trails and scrambled up and down steep stream banks without losing my footing.

In the water? You have to install the Simms HardBite Boot Studs or Star Cleats to get trustworthy traction. The StreamTread sole grips wet boulders just fine, but add a little slime and your foot will slide.

I put up with the slip-and-slide effect for a while (good balancing practice I told myself). But when I finally installed the Simms HardBite Boot Studs, they made a world of difference. No slipping. No sliding. Just a solid grip that I trust.

The bottom line: The Simms Rivershed Boot (with studs or cleats) is a great choice for anybody who wants a rubber-soled wading boot that offers comfort, on-trail traction, and serious foot and ankle protection.

You can purchase the Simms Rivershed Wading Boot from Fishwest and receive FREE shipping. (And don’t forget to buy the Simms HardBite Boot Studs or Star Cleats at the same time.)

Drift Cover

Confluence Films: Drift Film Review

If you have read my other posts you will know that I am not a certified critic, but I do like a good movie. This is my review of the movie “Drift” by Confluence Films.  At the encouragement of the staff at Fishwest, I watched this movie and I must say that watching this film was enjoyable.

The film opens with a segment on the Deschutes River with John and Amy Hazel and incredible scenes of spey casting for steelhead.  They both seem to connect with the fish on a personal level.  In the pursuit of a fish of a thousand casts, when rewarded, they do not take the fish for granted. After seeing their passion, it brings the question to mind, does the fish catch the fisherman?

The movie will then take you to Belize with Brian O’Keefe on a quest for permit.  He is hosted in Punta Gorda at Turneffe Flats by the Garbutt brothers, Ewort, Oliver, Scully and Dennis.  If there is another saltwater trip I would take, (other than the Fishwest sponsored Andros bonefish trip) I think it would be here.  The Garbutt brothers proved instrumental in the Belizean government declaring that permit, bonefish and tarpon are now protected, catch and release only.

A couple of quick stops on the “A” section on the Green River with Adam Barker and Tommy Knight and the Frying PanDrift Cover River with R.A. Beattie and Boone Klug and then on to the Bighorn River with Robert Boyce, Robert Eddins and Jordan Gage that illustrates good times with good friends.

My favorite part of the film was on Andros islands with Charlie Smith, the inspiration and co-creator of the Crazy Charlie.  Guiding bone fisherman for over 50 years, he still practices his casting everyday to make that perfect cast so he can mentor clients on his boat.  In his words he loves being with people, loves catering to tourists and loves fishing,that is what keeps him smiling.

The final segment is a lesson in cultural awareness when Travis Smith and Jon Steihl fishes in Kashmir India with Maqsood Madarie while fishing the Yarbal River

Hopefully I did not spoil the film for you but instead motivate you to get it.  My recommendation, order Drift from Fishwest, and watch it.  It took me out of the city on a cold winter day, I give Drift three dry flies and three Crazy Charlies.

For more info on this great film please click HERE

Cold Feet, Forsaken Fish and the Morning After…